Bend, OR., March 24, 2021 – Redside Ranch Vineyard Manager Kerry Damon always believed award-winning wines could be made from grapes grown in Central Oregon.
Now, he has validation, thanks to his partnership with Elixir Winemaker, Christopher Kirk Ermisch.
Their Redside Ranch 2019 Marquette won a gold medal at the 21st annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, one of the largest and most important for American wines in the world. The 2019 Marquette received the highest points for a Marquette in the United States, competing against well-established and award-winning wineries and vineyards in the United States.
The award-winning Marquette was handcrafted by Ermisch at Elixir Wine Group in Bend from Redside Ranch’s harvest in 2019. The University of Minnesota introduced Marquette in 2006. Marquette is a cousin of Frontenac, another University of Minnesota cold-climate creation, and the grandson of Pinot Noir. The university developed Marquette to be cold-hardy varietal, well-suited for Central Oregon.
Damon is both honored and amazed Redside Ranch in Terrebonne won a gold medal in its first competition, adding the recognition from the vineyard’s harvest is a tribute to the partnership between the vineyard managers and the winemaker.
“This recognition will help establish Central Oregon as the next place to grow grapes and make wine. This gold medal is a tribute to the pioneering spirit and the work being done by many people to establish Central Oregon as a winegrowing region,” Damon said. “We are a close community of winery and vineyard owners here, so it benefits us all.”
Ermisch said Damon has been a tireless advocate of growing cold hardy and French/American hybrid grapes in Central Oregon. “Redside Ranch’s Marquette was a pleasure to make, it was hand-picked and tasted delicious right off the vine,” Ermisch said.
Both men said Marquette is a natural fit to Central Oregon’s terroir. “Marquette is well-suited for the unique, high desert climate of Central Oregon much like its cousin, Pinot Noir, is suited for the greater Willamette Valley,” Damon said.
Describing Redside Ranch Vineyard as a “passion project,” Ranch Manager Ryder Redfield said the ranch is owned by his cousin, Kris Kibak.
“When Kris purchased the ranch, there was already a small vineyard,” Redfield shared. “When we first worked with Kerry to expand the vineyard, we decided to make wine to give to family and friends.”
Redfield said there are currently five acres of Marquette grapes, with another acre being planted in June. They harvest 600 pounds of Marquette in 2019, equaling 33 cases. With the vineyard’s expansion, they are predicting 12 tons of grapes to make 785 cases in the next few years.
The gold medal for their first vintage of Marquette has all four men asking the question, “What’s next for Redside Ranch.”
“This competition showed us how our Marquette stacks up against established wineries making Marquette wines for many years,” Damon said. “The gold medal brings awareness to the years of lessons we have learned about cultivating grapes and making wine in Central Oregon. I believe continued success is at hand for Central Oregon’s vineyards and wineries.”
About Kerry Damon
Kerry Damon is a professional viticulturist and vineyard manager who has 23 years of experience working at vineyards and wineries in Oregon and California. He is establishing Central Oregon as a region to successfully grow cold-hardy grapes. He serves as consultant to several young vineyards in Central Oregon, but his focus is developing Redside Ranch, which is serving as a research vineyard to collect data on soil, weather and vine physiology.
About Christopher Kirk Ermisch
Christopher Kirk Ermisch is a national wine importer and winemaker with more than 26 years of experience. He owns the national import company, Elixir Wine Group and Ermisch Cellars winery in Bend, Oregon. Ermisch founded and owns Bodega Calle winery in Mendoza, Argentina and is the producer/director of the documentary, Boom Varietalthat debuted at Bend Film in 2011. Before these ventures, he had management experiences with major estates in the corporate wine world.